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Artificial Intelligence in the Nigerian Legal Industry: A Threat or an Opportunity?

August 6, 2020
The Future of Law Firm Client Service
August 10, 2020
August 6, 2020
The Future of Law Firm Client Service
August 10, 2020
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Artificial Intelligence in the Nigerian Legal Industry: A Threat or an Opportunity?

Artificial Intelligence in the Nigerian Legal Industry


Jeremiah Ajayi is a writer, detailed researcher, and an ante-penultimate law student at the Obafemi Awolowo University.


The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the world as we know it.

Among the key drivers of this expeditious change is Artificial Intelligence (AI). With the enterprise adoption of deep learning and machine learning algorithms, AI disruption has affected several industries. Considering AI’s exponential growth, its disruption shall likely extend to every sector in the foreseeable future.

Nonetheless, AI disruption is more of an innovation than a threat – a new gold standard era, in the legal sector. Unfortunately, the Nigerian legal industry seems unprepared for the impending transformation. Aside from its conservative nature which is a deterrent to innovation, the majority of Nigerian Legal Industry perceive AI as a doomsday, which will lead to job loss or possibly upset the status quo. When not feared, there is only much talk about AI and no action.

In recognition of the above-stated problems, this paper offers a pragmatic and fresh perspective. AI is not an apocalypse for the legal profession. Instead, AI will forever change the narrative as it would become a tool for lawyers to become extraordinaire. In the automation age, lawyers without requisite skills will “die”. This paper highlights these skills and discusses how the Nigerian lawyer can develop them.

Only an innovative lawyer can survive tomorrow’s legal practice.

Praise for ‘Artificial Intelligence in the Nigerian Legal Industry: A Threat or an Opportunity?’

“… What Jeremiah has done with ‘Artificial Intelligence in the Nigerian Legal Industry: A Threat or an Opportunity?’ is a deep dive into AI’s applications in the legal industry, highlighting possibilities waiting to be unlocked. If you desire to stay Future-Proof, it is a must-read.”
– Faith Obafemi
Tech Lawyer, Co-Founder Future-Proof Intelligence, Ranked Among the Top 20 African Blockchain Influencers to Follow on Twitter (2019).

“If you are a lawyer who is worried about being replaced by a robot, then this masterpiece is for you. Jeremiah Ajayi gives an in-depth picture of how Artificial Intelligence will disrupt the legal industry. Still, at the same time, he holds the hand of the frightened and anxious lawyer to see that there are other important areas lawyers can remain relevant and work in harmony with their software counterparts…”

– Mary Imasuen
Team Lead, Branding & Marketing, Chris Ogunbanjo LP

“…Jeremiah Ajayi, being the smart wordsmith that he is, stated the problems surrounding the possibility of ‘Artificial Intelligence in the Nigerian Legal Industry.’ In my view, this is all-encompassing. Ending with how a lawyer can develop requisite skills needed in an innovative law practice made this paper a masterpiece. I am proud of this!”

– Oluwatobi Abiodun
Legal Tech Enthusiast, Digital Content Creator & Strategist

What is Artificial Intelligence?  4
Types of AI 4
Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) / Narrow AI / Weak AI 4
Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) / Deep AI / Strong AI 5
Artificial Superintelligence (ASI) 5
AI: The Catalyst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution 7
How Can Artificial Intelligence Improve the Nigerian Legal Industry? 9
Automated Document Review 9
Risk Assessment 9
Prediction of legal proceedings outcome 10
Due Diligence Reviews 10
Conservatism – The Bane of Innovation in the Nigerian Legal Industry 12
Will Artificial Intelligence End this Age-long Conservatism of the Nigerian Legal Industry? 14
Is Artificial Intelligence the End of Legal Practice? 16
Is the Absence of Threat a Certainty? 17
The Beginning of A New Gold Standard Era 18
The New Gold Standard Era in Nigeria’s Legal Industry: A Pipe Dream or Possibility? 19
Skills Needed in The New Gold Standard Era 22
Information Technology (IT) Skills 22
Legal Design Thinking 22
Project Management 23
Negotiation and Dispute Resolution 24
Problem Solving 24
Creativity 25
Set out “creative time” 25
Embrace the Beginner’s Mindset 25
Embrace your creativity 25
Emotional Intelligence 26
Improve the awareness of your own emotions 26
Manage your emotions 27
Learn how to perceive emotions in others 27
Understand how to read and influence people 27
Collaboration Skill 27
The Role of the Lawyer in Preparing for the New Gold Standard Era 28
About Author 29

What is Artificial Intelligence?
John McCarthy first defined the term “Artificial Intelligence” in 1956 as “the development and use of machines to execute tasks which usually required human intelligence.”
As time passed, other definitions sprung up, one of such definitions defines AI as “the use of technology to carry out a task that would typically require human intelligence.”
Another school of thought defined AI “as the branch of computer science dealing with the reproduction of mimicking of human-level intelligence, self-awareness, knowledge, and thought in computer programmes.”
DataRobot CEO, Jeremy Achin’s, speech at the 2017 Japan AI Experience, summed up the modern definition of AI. According to Jeremy:
“AI is a computer system able to perform tasks that ordinarily require human intelligence … Many of these artificial intelligence systems are powered by machine learning; some of them are powered by deep learning and very boring things like rules power some of them.”

Types of AI
The capacity to mimic human characteristics is the major characteristic of AI technologies. Using this characteristic for reference, all AI systems fall into any of the following categories:
1. Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI)
2. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)
3. Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) / Narrow AI / Weak AI
Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), also known as Narrow AI, is around us. Unlike its counterpart, Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI), ANI has manifested right before our eyes. In previous decades, Narrow AI experienced many breakthroughs that contributed to the economic vitality of nations around the world.
Narrow AI can either have limited memory or be reactive. The limited memory type is more advanced and enables machines to use historical data for decision-machine. On the other hand, when a Narrow AI is reactive, it has no data storage or memory capability. For this reason, it can respond to different stimuli without previous experience, just like the human mind.
Most of the present-day AI is the limited memory AI as machines use stored data for deep learning.
Examples of Narrow AI include:
1. Drone robots
2. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, among other virtual assistants
3. Google’s Rankbrain
4. Social media monitoring tools
5. Facial and image recognition software
6. Netflix recommendations
7. Self-driving cars
8. Disease mapping tools
For reference purposes, much of the AI mentioned in this article is “Narrow AI.”

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) / Deep AI / Strong AI
Artificial General Intelligence, otherwise known as strong AI/Deep AI, is a machine that can solve any task with its human-level intelligence. AGI has a human-like thinking and understanding capacity as it uses a framework known as the theory of mind AI.
Theory of mind AI framework refers to the ability of AI to discern emotions, needs, thought processes, and beliefs. As a theory of mind level AI, Deep AI is not merely about mimicking human actions. Instead, it involves training machines to understand humans accurately.

If AI researchers and scientists are to succeed at Deep AI, they must find a way to make machines programme a wide range of cognitive abilities. Unfortunately, several difficulties, such as the inability to replicate essential functions of movement and sight, mar the quest for Deep AI. Experts at the NSTC Committee on technology agreed that Deep AI seems impossible to achieve for the next decades.

Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)
Artificial Superintelligence is a hypothetical type of AI. At this stage, AI does not just understand or mimic human intelligence; it surpasses human intelligence. In the words of Nick Bostrom, the Swedish author of Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, defined ASI as “an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom, and social skills.”
Although the entire concept of Artificial Intelligence means the ability of computers to mimic human thought, artificial superintelligence goes far further by creating a world where a computer has cognitive ability far superior human’s.
For long, ASI has been the muse of most dystopian fictional works where robots are trying to overrun, threaten, or take over human civilization. Examples are Ex Machina, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Metropolis, and Interstellar. than
Although it is difficult to imagine a world of advanced AI at the moment, it is clear that we still have a long way to get there as the present state of AI is still in its initial stage. Therefore, it is a bit too early to worry about the dangers of AI as there is a considerable amount of time to secure the safety of AI.

However, for AI optimists, the fact that AI is barely in its elementary stage makes the future even more exciting.

AI: The Catalyst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The world has experienced four phases of the Industrial Revolution. These phases have been in the economic and technological sphere. In the first Industrial Revolution which lasted from the mid-18th century to 1830 (mostly within the territory of Great Britain) , water and steam power were the major factors influencing the production process.
In the late 19th and 20th centuries (1870-1914), a new Industrial Revolution emerged as industries started exploiting synthetic and natural resources, previously unused for mass productions . Soon, lighter metals, plastics, and electric power became the new energy sources. Among the impressive innovations of the second Industrial Revolution were telephone, internal combustion engine, and light bulb.

The Third Industrial Revolution (also known as the Digital Revolution) which started in the 1960s accouched information and communication technology as production became automated . The third Revolution birthed many innovations which the modern world enjoys today.
Notably, the idea of Artificial Intelligence was conceived in the Third Industrial Revolution. Presently, the world is experiencing a fourth Industrial Revolution. Building on the legacy of the Third Industrial Revolution, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is a fusion of technologies blurring the lines between biological, physical, and digital spheres.
However, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not a mere extension of the Third Industrial Revolution. Instead, it is distinct and has unprecedented breakthroughs. Unlike the other industrial revolutions which developed at a linear pace, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is growing at an exponential rate.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a disruptor affecting almost all industries, including retail, banking and finance, healthcare, manufacturing, public sector, and even the legal sector. 3-D printing, self-driving vehicles, Internet of Things (IoT), nanotechnology, and material science characterise the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But, the primary driving force and catalyst of these emerging technology breakthroughs is Artificial Intelligence (AI).
From drones to translators, self-driving cars, and virtual assistants, AI has permeated virtually every industry than we realise. Noticeably, industries such as banking, retail, and transportation have embraced new technologies as they strive to incorporate AI into their operations.

Artificial Intelligence, among the other drivers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is disrupting the present industry value chains. Thanks to the innovativeness of Artificial Intelligence, disruption from new agile competitors has a more substantial chance of ousting complacent stakeholders than ever before.

The exponential pace of technological innovation is increasingly difficult for companies, individuals, and even governments to keep up with. But similar to other technological advancements, Artificial Intelligence has its loopholes. On that account, implementing Artificial Intelligence is not as easy as it seems. And this difficulty of implementation leaves a void.
All the same, futuristic companies and industries are trying to fill in the void by understanding AI. Even in a third world country such as Nigeria, the banking industry is filling this void and keeping up with the 4IR through innovations like FinTech. Unfortunately, the Nigerian legal industry seems to be left out of the positive trend as it struggles to keep up with the fast development. For this reason, there is a need for lawyers to understand their ever-changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their conservative industry, relentlessly, and continuously innovate.

How Can Artificial Intelligence Improve the Nigerian Legal Industry?
There is the misconception that AI emergence is the loss of jobs and an “apocalypse.” While many publications maintain such a pessimistic stance, this paper seeks a detour. AI is not doomsday for the legal profession. Instead, AI has a cogent role in upgrading the legal sector. Bearing this in mind, below is a list of areas through which AI can improve the Nigerian legal industry:

Automated Document Review
Legal practice is synonymous with lots of paperwork. Resultantly, junior lawyers have to identify relevant facts from the mountains of documents. Unfortunately, the manual approach of seeking out relevant information makes document review susceptible to human errors. Moreover, it wastes time and energy needed in crucial legal tasks.
Be that as it may, AI makes document review less fallible. For example, ROSS Intelligence is an AI programme that automates legal document review. The legal research platform provides a cognitive computation that uses natural language in analysing legal documents.
Despite the intervention of cognitive computation in making papers review efficient, lawyers need to provide great strategy and analysis as today’s AI is not sufficiently intelligent yet.
Ergo, lawyers need to train AI software to help in identifying relevant aspects of a document. The synergy between lawyers and AI in reviewing documents will provide the most cost-effective and best services for their clients.

Risk Assessment
Assessing risks is among the responsibilities of a lawyer. Excellent risk assessment prevents pricey lawsuits. Regrettably, most lawyers and law firms are not good at risk assessment. Clients suffer the consequences of this deficiency. Fortunately, AI innovation can ameliorate this inefficiency.
AI software such as TAR (Technology Assisted Review) tools is capable of predictive coding. This innovative feature can review information virtually, thereby helping lawyers with a more competent risk assessment.
Armed with smart solutions such as TAR, lawyers can identify potential risks earlier than usual. In effect, an automated risk assessment will lead to the shrewd legal advisory of clients on potential disputes before they ensue.
In the instance of lawsuits, the availability of AI-driven applications will help law firms and lawyers discover information and data that need optimal protection quickly. The progress of competent risk assessment will enable law firms and lawyers to correctly assess risk outcomes while minimising costs and protecting their reputation and clients’.

Prediction of legal proceedings outcome
Sometimes, lawyers fail to pass the litmus test of outcome prediction, thereby leading to a backlog of cases in courts. This problem is a cankerworm eating up the fabrics of the Nigerian justice system. Nevertheless, the introduction of AI in the legal industry offers a solution to this problem. Unlike human lawyers, AI can accurately analyse data in a way that correctly envisages the conclusion of a legal dispute.
At the University College, London, and the University of Pennsylvania, researchers decided to experiment with the aforementioned by applying AI software algorithms to the European Court of Human Rights’ 584 cases. Surprisingly, the algorithms found a recurring trend in these cases, and this led to a 79% accuracy.
With the swift analysis of past litigation trials by AI programmes, Nigerian lawyers will be more equipped to predict the conclusion of lawsuits correctly. The automation of disputes prediction will save the time and costs of clients, law firms, and courts.

Due Diligence Reviews
Due diligence is a crucial role for lawyers, especially those in the corporate sector. Due diligence provides clients with necessary information regarding their M & A processes and feasibility.
Typically, due diligence processes involve preparation, setting objectives, categorisation of financial knowledge, among other useful information. All these make due diligence a tedious task. Time is never enough for due diligence processes as lawyers have to get documents, analyse each of them for relevant points. The material points form the basis for creating a due diligence report.
Sometimes, the tiresome nature of due diligence affects the efficiency and morale of lawyers as they have to work late to meet the set target. In consequence, lawyers might make costly, thereby decreasing clients’ satisfaction and elongating the due diligence process.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology proffers a feasible solution to these problems. If implemented in due diligence processes, AI can automate the search for relevant document data for review. After it analyses the data, it will export the relevant points to Excel for a comparison review. Through this process, lawyers can further review the data in a comparable format. This automated process will not only ensure the document of document sorting, but it would also eliminate manual errors.

Conservatism – The Bane of Innovation in the Nigerian Legal Industry
Globally, law firms have started preparing themselves for the future of law. In this regard, they utilise AI software such as ROSS Intelligence, TAR tools, Kira Systems, and Leverton, to automate some of their previously manual tasks. For instance, law firms such as Allen & Overy (with Fuse), Dentons, (with Nextlaw Labs), and Thomas Reuters (with their Elite offerings) are massively investing in Legal Tech that performs automated work allocation, predictive data modelling, transaction mapping, automated matter management, and expertise finding. Despite this rising global acceptance of AI by legal practitioners, the opposite is obtainable in the Nigerian jurisdiction.
Basking in the heritage of tradition handed over by Great Britain, the Nigerian legal industry has proven to be an unapologetic ambassador of her former colonial master’s legacy. The Nigerian legal sector exhibits a certain level of non-challans towards accepting technological innovation. The ‘threat’ that innovation poses to the “noble” nature of the legal profession is the primary reason behind the unenthusiastic stance of many lawyers.

In uncovering the reason behind the alarming legal conservatism obtainable in our polity, it is apposite that we go down memory lane. After all, renowned American humorist and public commentator, Mark Twain posited that “History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”
It is interesting to note that historically, learned men of the bench have never been sources of most milestones that evolved the judiciary. Often, the essential innovations in the legal history of several civilisations were carried out by men wielding political power instead of men learned in the law. At best, men of the legal profession acted like auxiliary nurses as they helped in the drafting and preparation of legislation and constitutions.
Indeed, some of the political figures who have contributed noteworthy inputs to legal reform belonged to the legal profession. However, this did not relate to their function as legal practitioners. Their law-making roles and interpretation of the law were two different functions existing on a spectrum rather than a fluid. In summary, lawyers and judges were rarely instruments of significant legal reforms.

Interestingly, the notion mentioned above is one which opposing schools of thought may refute on the basis that judges introduced some of the significant legal reforms. Examples of such great changes are those proposed by Lord Mansfield and Chief Justice Marshall in Moses v Macferlan and Marbury v. Madison , respectively. These historical decisions birthed reforms (the concept of quasi-contracts and judicial review) that transcended beyond the 19th century.

Nonetheless, the truth remains that these decisions built on precedence rather than originality. Lord Mansfield stated while delivering his historical judgement in Moses v. Macferlan that he merely voiced a sanction to a remedy that the Roman Law had provided for based on equity and natural justice. Meanwhile, the historical declaration of judicial review by Chief Justice Marshall cemented the idea of a political system governed by the principle of supremacy of constitutional law (as already established by the American constitution of 1789). Thus, the desire to break from the past did not influence the seemingly momentous legal reforms by learned men of the bench. Instead, the supposed learned innovators were merely trying to build on precedence – a significant feature which the entire legal profession builds on.
The preceding explains why many lawyers resist disruptive reforms. Like her former colonial master, Nigeria inherited the pre-21st century western legal conservatism. But, even the country responsible for bestowing this traditionalism is gradually accepting the synergy between law and AI.

Many Nigerian law firms, lawyers, and law teachers exhibit insouciance towards novelties that upset the status quo. For example, Nigerian law firms maintain the traditional brick-and-mortar model to support their billing model. Nigeria’s leading commercial law firms incorporate a conventional practice of law, a partnership model. On top of the pyramid are the partners who share the profits and debt liability of the law firm. Below the hierarchy, there are associates (who have to put in many years of practice to become a partner). However, the emergence of AI will threaten this system, which they need for survival. The incursion of AI into the legal profession is an impetus for the legal gig economy, which will make legal services more competitive than it already is.

The legacy of conservatism in the Nigerian legal sector explains why legal education has not evolved to meet the needs of the 21st century. Despite its importance and benefits, the technology and business aspect of legal practise is often ignored. Thousands of law students still cram outdated laws and cases to the detriment of technology skills development.
The old Socratic method of instruction and the litigation remains the most emphasized aspect at the Nigerian Law School. In a digitized era, such as the Artificial Intelligence era, students need to learn skills that will make them survive in an ever-changing environment. Some of these skills include marketing, coding, data analytics, software proficiency, among others.
Another reason that accounts for the risk averness and conservative nature of the legal profession is the mindset of lawyers. Lawyers are known to have a fixed mindset rather than a growth one. In her book, Mindset, psychologist, Carol Dweck, defines a fixed mindset as the belief that one’s success is due to inherent intelligence rather than efforts. For fixed-minded people, the goal is to look smart even when there is no learning in the process. As Dweck explained in Standford Magazine, each task is a challenge to the image of people with a fixed mindset. This set of people only pursue activities where they require minimal efforts to shine. Unfortunately, this mindset is one which lawyers build before they even start their careers.
Trained in a system that discourages risk-taking while sticking to traditions and precedents, the average law student grows to have a fear of failure. Hence, he is reluctant to go outside his safe zone. This culture of risk aversion does not stop when he becomes a lawyer. Instead, it worsens as he discovers that culture in law firms and legal departments praise intelligence and depress risk attempts.

The preceding facts establish how the legal profession is rooted in reputation and precedent. This establishment leads to the question:

Will Artificial Intelligence End this Age-long Conservatism of the Nigerian Legal Industry?
Due to the lack of regulations for disruptive entrants such as AI, the impending disruption of the Nigerian legal sector is not deemed essential. Nevertheless, the disruption by AI and legal tech is inevitable. The self-regulatory benefits that the legal profession does not guarantee long-term protection protect it from the threats and benefits of imminent digital disruption.
In this decade and beyond, exciting developments in legal AI and tech will happen. For instance, Deloitte predicts that there will be the automation of over 100,000 legal tasks by 2036. After profiling over 700 professions, including the legal profession, Carl Benedict Frey and Michael Osborne discovered that the legal profession is more likely to be computerised before other fields such as counselling, pharmacy, engineering, teaching, among others. Hence, the time for law firms to get rid of their fixed mindset and embrace a growth practice while developing in-house AI practices is now.

AI is also set to cause a global trend that will forever upset the traditional practice of law. The rule in the legal profession is that only lawyers can represent clients in court. Even so, a shift seems to be on the way as the benchmark case of Lola v Skadden held that tasks that could as well be handled by machines are not engagements in law practice. The implication of that judgement permits machines to intrude on the tasks considered “peculiar” to lawyers alone. Although this judgement is not yet a compelling precedent in several jurisdictions, it is bound to become a worldwide trend soon. The moment it becomes a global trend, the Nigerian jurisdiction is likely to follow suit.

The handwriting is on the wall. It is either evolve or die for Nigerian lawyers and law firms. For the top-tier law firms, there is a need for the re-evaluation of their business model, if they must survive the imminent AI disruption. With the introduction of virtual law firms such as Infusion Lawyers and upcoming law firms utilising legal tech solutions like AI, many leading conservative big law firms will have to change their traditional organization model to a rocket structure. Ordinarily, these conventional leading law firms might not adopt AI-driven solutions. But, the competition from the Big Four, legal Tech startups, and boutique law firms is a substantial challenge in tailored legal practices.

It seems the death of conservatism in the legal profession draws closer than predicted. Ademola puts it better, that “law which though shielded by regulations and imbued in tradition might not withstand the sweeping influence of the digital revolution for long.” Law and its practice are not in any way safe from AI.
It is noteworthy that certain law firms in Nigeria (such as Infusion Lawyers) have embraced AI, which was once considered a “threat.” Every law firm now uses Timi the Law, an AI-driven research tool developed by Law Pavilion, to answer queries on the Lagos High Court Civil Procedure Rules.
Additionally, there is Judy Legal, another AI-driven application that has the database of all cases in Nigeria and Ghana; like Google search, it allows you to personalise search results and save them. Albeit minor developments, they are laudable as AI is winning the battle against legal conservatism even before digital disruption began.

Is Artificial Intelligence the End of Legal Practice?
When legal startup, LawGeex held a competition between an AI-powered algorithm and lawyers from reputable law firms such as Goldman Sachs and Alston & Bird, the AI matched the best-performing lawyer for accuracy.
In terms of speed, the AI outmatched the lawyers completely. This outstanding advancement, among other innovations, has led lawyers to view Artificial Intelligence as an apocalypse coming to send lawyers to extinction. Indeed, AI does threaten certain aspects of legal practice. But, AI does not signify the end of the entire profession.
There are two reasons why AI does not mean the demise of legal practice. The first reason is the black box problem of AI. Despite the ability of AI to learn and improve services through data processing, no one, including programmers, can ascertain how AI arrives at a particular output. Although the input and output of AI have known variables, the process or the “black box” remains a mystery. Therefore, AI needs supervision.

In terms of legal practice, a lawyer (who understands and appreciates data bias, analytics, and processing issues) would have to review any data before an AI programme works on it to avoid confusion. Since the black box problem is fundamental to inductive machine learning software processes, the likelihood of its solution in the foreseeable future is low. For this reason, lawyers will remain relevant in the age of AI disruption. The work of lawyers, especially junior associates, will involve identifying and understanding data ready for processing, review the results, and make necessary changes. As a result, there will be a higher premium on understanding clients’ intention and framework than the current emphasis on drafting technique.
Another reason why AI disruption does not signify the demise of human lawyers is because of the nature of AI. Like other emerging technologies, AI is a tool. While technology is adept at reaching a destination, it is mediocre at determining the direction of such a destination. Similarly, AI software can help a client with specific tasks, but only lawyers can match a client’s objectives to the desired outcome. Even if AI applications provide solutions that serve as alternatives to consulting lawyers, clients will eventually need the service of lawyers in understanding how automated legal work affects their goals. To this end, clients will not only need lawyers to analyse the automated legal work; but, lawyers will act as the ultimate guide in helping them achieve their stated goals.
Because the legal practice is multifaceted, there are several levels of complexity involved in it. From transactional to litigation, the legal practice requires a certain level of creativity, reasoning, and complex input, which seem beyond the reach of computing technology in the meantime.

Is the Absence of Threat a Certainty?
Although it is vital to maintain optimism about the fate of legal practice, a dose of realism is likewise important. Presently, no statistics strongly indicate that AI disruption is the demise of legal practice. Despite this, one must not forget that technology innovation is renowned for its undisputed unpredictability. Especially with emerging technologies, it is incredibly difficult to determine their pace. Therefore, there is no surety in any technological prediction.
For instance, back in 2004, Levy and Richard J. Murnane forecasted that computers would never replace human drivers. This prediction was a shortlived one as Google announced a breakthrough, introducing self-driving cars in 2010. Also, Murnane predicted that technology could never replicate “complex communication” skills. However, in 2011, Apple Inc. proved Murdane wrong by introducing Siri. Accordingly, it is dangerous to assume that the legal profession is entirely safe from AI-aided extinction.

Exponential laws of technology such as Kryder’s Law, Moore’s Law, and Niesel’s Law have led to a point in technology where AI is increasingly becoming available and affordable. For instance, Kryder’s Law made storage amazingly cheap. Also, Niesen’s and Moore’s Law foretold “cloud computing” before its existence. Ultimately, when AI becomes cheaper, more accessible, and super-powered in the not-too-distant future, other scientists and professionals can easily vie at the legal practice by outsourcing ‘legal tasks’ to AI.
The argument defending the relevance of lawyers in an era of AI disruption is relevant for the foreseeable future. One cannot ascertain what will happen when the human element becomes inapposite. Before such happens, the legal field must save itself.

The Beginning of A New Gold Standard Era
With the imminent collision of legal practice with AI, the hackneyed view that a lawyer is the “gold standard” of the legal profession is erroneous. Such a perspective circumscribes innovation in the legal profession as it makes it difficult for lawyers to accept AI as “a helper” rather than a threat to the status quo.
The emergence of Artificial Intelligence in the legal space debunks the myth that “lawyers are the gold standard of the legal profession.” This myth suggests that only tasks performed by lawyers are qualified as ‘bespoke’ for legal services. For the promoters of this long-age ‘lawyer exceptionalism’ myth, only lawyers are skilful enough to handle legal services.
Nonetheless, the interdisciplinary approach of Artificial Intelligence, in collaboration with other key drivers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, trumps such belief. The versatility of technology will bring down the previous barriers to legal practice as diverse professionals will finally be able to solve law business challenges. On the part of the lawyers, the assistance of an AI-driven solution would make them extraordinaire. Lawyers collaborating with AI is the ultimate touchstone – the nascency of a new era in legal practice.

The new gold standard era will not lead to the massive elimination of legal jobs, as commonly feared. Instead, it will reduce the drudge work of lawyers, allowing them to concentrate on real legal work. Undoubtedly, there will be an elimination of specific legal jobs, but more jobs will emerge with the legal tech disruption. The future of law equips lawyers with the resources to create quality work that clients truly appreciate. The new gold standard also positions lawyers to level up to their non-legal competitors – the Big Four, start-ups, and digital companies.

The New Gold Standard Era in Nigeria’s Legal Industry: A Pipe Dream or Possibility?
Due to the technological innovations in western jurisdictions, AI disruption of the legal sector seems feasible. However, for a country like Nigeria, where only a few offices have an internet connection and legal research is still carried out manually, several challenges mar the likelihood of an AI-driven legal industry.
First, the majority of AI high-end solutions remain quite far-reaching for the average Nigerian lawyer and law firm. For instance, a reputable online platform, FindLaw, reports that the cost for small law firms to install software robots (for handling legal tasks) is $30,000. When converted to Naira, that is N10,950,000 (using the current exchange rate). Except for top-tier law firms, not many firms (the majority of which are sole-proprietors can) afford the amount mentioned above.
Also, the lack of fast and high-speed internet connection is a stumbling block to the expediency of a tech-disrupted legal practice. The majority of Nigerians access the internet through four telecommunication companies (MTN, 9Mobile, Airtel, and Globacom). Undoubtedly, these telecommunication companies have increased internet access in the country.
Notwithstanding, most of their services are slow and wholly unreliable. Consequently, many internet users are forced to use other alternatives such as Spectranet. Those who cannot afford such alternatives desist from performing specific tasks that require swift speed internet. Also, the internet services provided by these telecommunication companies are limited by locations. While it works perfectly in some areas, the reverse is the case for others.
Also, the attitude of lawyers towards technology might slow down the likelihood of the new gold standard era in Nigeria. Some Nigerian lawyers still have reservations towards technology. Many of them are unwilling to adapt to the changing narrative as they choose to remain in the paper world. Except for young lawyers and law students, many lawyers do not trust technology. Conservatism and misinformation contribute to this distrust. Even in the community of computer-literate lawyers, not many are knowledgeable about new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Robotics, and Nanotechnology. This single factor is a mondo impediment on future law practice in Nigeria.

With the foregoing encumbrances, one might want to conclude that the new golden standard era in Nigeria is a chimeric tale. However, the growing momentum of technology in Nigeria proves otherwise. Technology is also gaining momentum in the Nigerian legal sector, and such momentum prepares the legal industry for the inevitability of artificial intelligence. Innovations such LawPavillion is a landmark invention leading such momentum. Developed by Grace InfoTech Ltd. (GIT), this software is a Nigerian electronic law report that automates legal research. Other startups making incredible innovations in the legal tech space are DIYLaw, Legitng, and LawPadi.
Not long ago, a company known as Digilaw launched in the legal tech space too. Digilaw seeks to bridge the gap between law and technology by articles and podcasts publication. This company also organises online classes on topics such as the future of jobs, start-up funding, blockchain, digital rights, among other tech-related topics. .

There is also the rise of virtual law firms in the country. One of such law firms is Infusion Lawyers, Nigeria’s first Intellectual Property and Technology law firm. Additionally, there is a fast-rising breed of Nigerian lawyers specialising in emerging technologies. For instance, international digital lawyer, Faith Obafemi, is championing Nigeria’s Blockchain Law specialisation. Soon, there will be several other lawyers like her with groundbreaking records in emerging technologies.
Moreover, law firms are becoming innovative as well. In recent times, leading law firms such as Aluko & Oyebode, Bam and Gad Solicitors, Aelex, ACAS-law, The New Law Practice (TNP), Banwo and Ighodalo, Chris Ogunbanjo LP, among others, have incorporated specialisations such as FinTech, Technology, and Intellectual Property in their bespoke practices. These law firms have continually proven to be innovative by sponsoring 21st century oriented events. In September 2019, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce International Arbitration Centre (LACIAC) and LawPavilion in collaboration with Africa Legal Practice (ALP), Everlaw Associates, Duale, Ovia, Alex-Adedipe (DOA), Aelex, Lawyard, Famsville Solicitors, and Garnet Law Practice, organised the Africa Legal & Tech Network Summit in Lagos. The summit covered vital topics relating to technological disruption of the legal sector, legal tech automation, blockchain, and cybersecurity. Much recently, Aluko & Oyebode sponsored the Financial Services Innovation’s (FSI) Pay As You Know Hackathon, thereby strengthening innovation in Nigeria’s FinTech industry.

Furthermore, the AI industry is booming and with its large young population, Africa, in the words of Olalekan Temidayo, “has what it takes to push its way through to the forefront of the AI industry, globally.”
With Nigerian AI startups like Kudi, Touchabl Pictures, and hubs such as Data Science Nigeria, setting Nigeria as a trailblazer in the AI industry, it is expected that the Nigerian AI industry will experience exponential growth soon. In such a disruptive period, several Nigerian sectors will have to evolve or die. The Nigerian legal sector is not an exemption.
Rather than crying wolf about the impediments hindering an innovative legal practice, the Nigerian lawyer must start preparing for the future, now. Although legal sector disruption is often painted as an era not happening any time soon, the Nigerian lawyer should realise that the future is now. The developments in other countries prove so. Hence, a lawyer who is intentional about surviving the automation age must start building hard and soft skills that would make him immune to extinction.

Skills Needed in The New Gold Standard Era
Artificial Intelligence is at its rudimentary stage; thus, there is no surety of the direction that it would take in the next thirty years. There is no certainty that robots would not lead to the complete demise of the legal profession. Hence, lawyers must build invaluable future skills. The acquisition of such skills would prevent a lawyer from being replaced, if peradventure AI disrupts the legal profession. The requisite skill set includes, but not limited to, the following:
Information Technology (IT) Skills
The legal profession is infamously reputable for its reticence and risk aversion. Particularly in Nigeria, many lawyers remain technological incompetent. Nonetheless, technology is gradually becoming an integral part of our lives as it advances. With the entrance of AI in the legal sector, the demands of clients will drastically change.
In the new gold standard era, clients will prefer lawyers that make use of the endless possibilities created by Artificial Intelligence. Possession of IT skills will enable a lawyer to provide cost-effective services. When using IT skills, it is pertinent for lawyers to critique the results of AI solutions. A good IT skilled lawyer can quickly identify AI ethical biases or incomplete data.
Among the repository of IT skills necessary for lawyers to learn, machine learning, coding and programming take the lead. For lawyers interested in developing IT skills, online learning platforms like Cloud Academy, Udacity, Lynda, Skillshare, Datacamp, Udemy, and Coursera, are helpful.
While lawyers do not need to become software developers, they need to know how to code. With Nigeria’s tech sector growing at an exponential rate and also becoming Africa’s biggest technology market, It is expected that more tech companies require legal services. This number will further increase as more Nigerians become tech-savvy. Therefore, IT skills will give a lawyer a competitive edge as it will enable him to communicate better with tech clients.
Legal Design Thinking
At its core, legal design thinking means a multi-disciplinary approach aimed at understanding clients’ needs and bearing them in mind throughout the process. With the digitalization of legal practice leading to high expectations from clients and higher cost pressure, design thinking will become a necessary skill for lawyers.
Globally, design thinking is gradually incorporating in the legal profession. Standford University champions the innovative development as it has a lab known as the ‘Legal Design Lab’. Also, multinational law firm, DWF Ventures uses Legal Design to create a standard exhibiting how to benchmark contract management. The lab is a champion in building new models of access to the justice system. In the foreseeable future, legal design thinking shall be the driver for creativity, innovation, and change in the Nigerian legal industry.
The primary objective of legal design thinking is to develop client-centric solutions that answer a real need. The legal design thinking skill requires a lawyer to empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test legal solutions to make sure that clients’ need. Consequently, the legal design process requires a high level of creativity as it encourages the spontaneity of ideas and open-mindedness. This skill is one that AI cannot possibly replace as it involves creativity and empathy; two vital skills that AI systems cannot provide presently and probably later.
For legal professionals interested in developing legal design thinking skills, here are available world-class online courses on the subject matter:
➢ Design Thinking for Innovation (offered by the University of Virginia).
➢ Managing Innovation and Design Thinking (offered by HEC Paris)
➢ Design Thinking for the Greater Good: Innovation in the Social Sector (offered by the University of Virginia)
Project Management
In the era of AI in the legal sector, clients will prefer cost-effective lawyers who place a high premium on cost value, outcomes, and results. Correspondingly, project management becomes a relevant skill that protects lawyers from being rendered useless by AI.
Generally speaking, project management means planning teamwork to achieve set goals within a speculated period. But in the legal context, project management means the utilisation of project management principles to legal matters. Although the process seems simple enough for a lawyer to understand, there are techniques needed to master successful project management. These techniques include identifying the key stakeholders in a legal matter, documenting the scope of the work, setting out a budget, coordinating, monitoring deadlines, and an adequate review of the work done, costs, and results.
The key to the success of legal project management is the adaptation of core project management techniques to fit the requirement of legal matters.
With the impending emergence of the new gold standard era, project management plays a vital role in legal service delivery more than ever. Clients have a considerable preference for lawyers who will provide legal services at lower costs but with more efficiency, transparency, and efficiency. In the United Kingdom (UK), project management has assumed dominance in the legal sphere. Likewise, Nigerian clients’ demands for legal project management will significantly increase in the coming years as Artificial Intelligence makes the legal profession more client-centric. Thus, even a lawyer resists learning project management; he must have little knowledge about it if he must remain relevant.
For lawyers interested in developing their project management skills, here are available world-class online courses on the subject matter:
➢ Project Management Principles and Practices (offered by the University of California, Irvine)
➢ Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management (offered by the University of Virginia)
➢ Project Management & Other Tools for Career Development (offered by the University of California, Irvine)
Negotiation and Dispute Resolution
Conflict is a lawyer’s bread and butter. No matter how far Artificial Intelligence goes in automating the bulk of legal service delivery and the creation of robot lawyers, Dispute Resolution is possibly one skill that it cannot efficiently perform.
Lawyers can handle conflict and negotiations better than any robot or AI-driven solution due to the first-hand understanding of human-related situations and the ability to brainstorm. Even as Artificial Intelligence advances, the ability to deduce the real intentions of concerned parties after reading statements is one that eludes AI inventions, including robots.
Due to the demands of the legal profession, lawyers are well vast in negotiations. Notwithstanding, negotiation skill is one that a lawyer can improve. Through a deliberate decision to improve and the acknowledgement of shortcomings, the average lawyer can achieve win-win situations, achieving equilibrium between parties.
Problem Solving
Presently, AI has not been programmed to solve problems like humans. Unlike AI which performs tasks through cognitive computing, deep learning, neural network, and machine learning, humans can respond to unforeseen obstacles, analyse failures and mistakes, navigate obstacles, and understand the complexities of the problems.
Lawyers concentrate the bulk of their efforts in finding the perfect answer to clients’ problems. However, with the influx of lawyers, digitalization of legal service delivery, and competition from non-legal professions, it is necessary to involve clients in problem-solving. In the new gold standard era, legal solutions will become increasingly iterative. On that account, lawyers must continually improve their problem-solving skills more than ever before. If Nigerian lawyers must remain relevant, they must frequently ask “why?” to arrive at better solutions.
With the automation of legal tasks and urgency for a client-centric approach, lawyers will need to “think outside the box”. A creative lawyer will survive, no matter how today’s AI becomes intelligent. Therefore, creativity is an in-demand skill which lawyers must develop.
While many think of creativity as a skill possessed by only creatives (artists, writers, and the likes) or visionaries like Steve Job, that is only a misconception. According to scholars, there are two types of creativity:
1. “Big C” Creativity
2. “little-c” Creativity
The “Big C” is a rare but groundbreaking kind of thinking. It is the type many imagine the moment they hear the word “creativity.” This type of creativity is a talent. On the other hand, “little c” creativity comprises thinking of small ideas that can make vast differences in our lives. While the first type of creativity is almost impossible to develop, “little c” creativity is a developable skill.
Against ubiquitous myths, creativity is not a flash of inspiration. Rather, it is about showing up, doing the work and developing creative habits. Lawyers need to take steps to cultivate their creativity. Here are the recommended actions for nurturing creativity:
1. Set out “creative time”
As a future-oriented lawyer, take at least one day per week to work on new projects. You can also plan creative brainstorming sessions with your colleagues to come up to figure out improved ways to serve clients.
2. Embrace the Beginner’s Mindset
According to a creative juggernaut, Warby Parker, approaching the world with a beginner’s mindset is the best way to enhance creativity. This Buddhist-inspired principle applies to lawyers. While lawyers spend the bulk of their career trying to be “experts”, adopting a “beginner” mindset can bring a different perspective to one’s practice. One of the best ways to put the beginner’s mindset in practice is to ask clients lots of questions.
3. Embrace your creativity
To stay relevant in the ever-changing legal industry, especially in the era of AI, you need to think differently. Stand apart from the herd. By continually nurturing your creativity, you stay relevant. For this reason, you should not tame your creativity as a lawyer. Rather, embrace it and use it strategically.
Emotional Intelligence
Salovey and Mayer (1990) defines emotional intelligence as any skill involving self-motivation, self-awareness, emotional management, empathy, and handling of relationships. Delving to the core, Daniel Goleman defines Emotional Intelligence in his 1995 masterpiece Emotional Intelligence as the ability of each person to recognise, understand, and manage emotions. Moving further, Goleman goes to define emotional intelligence as the ability to identify, understand, and manage the emotions of others.
While the frontier skills of lawyers are notably analytical and logic skills, it is essential to note that these skills work together to solve the problems of a client – a real human. Hence, no matter how logical or analytical a lawyer can be, it is no doubt that emotions will always arise. If not managed properly, these emotions can be messy and quite uncomfortable.
In a Canadian Bar Association Report, Jordan Furlong, aptly couched the importance of emotional intelligence saying:
“Clients need our empathy, perspective, and personal commitment in order to feel that we really understand and appreciate what they are going through. Our colleagues need our engagement, respect, and understanding in order to try their hardest and help achieve the best outcomes for those we serve. As lawyers’ work moves farther from papers, processes, and transactions, the human element of who we are and what we do becomes all the more important”
As the legal practice becomes globalized, the hierarchies in the legal profession will become more collaborative and globalised than ever. Therefore, the development of self—awareness, proper management and engagement with emotions is the coal-and-ice needed for relevance in the future law practice.
Despite being professionals trained to be unemotional (as legal theory suggests that emotional responses alter legal reasoning), here are recommended ways to build emotional intelligence:
1. Improve the awareness of your own emotions
Regularly, reflect to identify the emotions you are feeling at a point in time. Examine their causes and note the responses they evoke. Undergo this exercise, especially when you are in an intense situation.
2. Manage your emotions
Once you have learned how to identify your feelings, determine the best way to express them, and whom it should be directed. Above all, learn to stop negative feelings from escalating except when necessary.
3. Learn how to perceive emotions in others
Learn how to interpret non-verbal cues in the body movement, voice tones and eyes of others. Do not interview clients to learn only facts. Learn how they feel too. Also, try to ascertain the emotions underlying your opponents’ actions.
4. Understand how to read and influence people
Once you develop the skill of reading non-verbal cues, try to understand how you can harness and diffuse emotions in others to elicit preferred responses, build trust and minimise conflict. Use this skill to foster client relationships and harmony with your colleagues.
Collaboration Skill
In a fast-paced world and technology age, clients now want faster, cheaper, and quality legal services. Rather than seeking the service of lawyers, clients are now driven to work with institutions like the Big Four, whom they believe, offer better alternatives. The AI disruption effect will further heighten the decentralization of the legal practice. Unlike the current practice obtainable in Nigeria, lawyers in the future practice will need to learn collaborative skills.
Law schools focus more on oratory and writing skills. Hence, most lawyers lack the skill to collaborate. In a technology-driven practice such as the Artificial Intelligence era, lawyers must learn to collaborate with other professionals such as accountants, technologists, project managers. With AI solutions performing mundane tasks, cases become more complex. Moreover, with non-law firms offering legal services, lawyers will work in interdisciplinary teams. Consequently, a lawyer who wants to survive extinction in the AI era must learn to trust the wisdom of the group. Being an isolationist would not do the future lawyer any good.

The Role of the Lawyer in Preparing for the New Gold Standard Era
The inclusion of AI and Legal Tech will transform the practice of law forever. Indeed, it will be a fool errand to assume that the impending digital revolution signifies the demise of legal practice. Regardless, a lawyer positioning himself for the future has to prepare for the new gold standard age.
More than ever before, the average Nigerian lawyer must develop a broad skill set ranging from advising in new legal areas such as digital privacy, cryptocurrency, and even media rights. More importantly, the future lawyer must endeavour to break free from the shackles of conservatism and maintain a growth mindset instead. Unlike the traditional lawyer, renowned for upholding precedence and maintaining the status quo, a modern lawyer must unceasingly upskill and learn as digital technologies infuse the legal space.
Aspiring lawyers happen to be born in one of the most exciting periods in legal history. In his masterpiece ‘Tomorrow’s Lawyers,’ Professor Richard Susskind opined that “… It will be important in law as elsewhere for young aspiring professionals (law students) to be entirely familiar with the potential and limitations of online service in their areas.”
As a digital revolution awaits the legal space, lawyers and aspirants must preserve their relevance ahead of the new era by investing in tech skills such as coding, programming, software engineering, digital marketing, among other skills.
For the lawyers that refuse to adapt to Artificial Intelligence, it will be a suicide mission!

About Author
Jeremiah Ajayi is a writer, detailed researcher, and an ante-penultimate law student at the Obafemi Awolowo University.
In his quest for a nonconformist and versatile legal practice, he explores Artificial Intelligence, Online Dispute Resolution, Privacy & Data Protection, and Legal Marketing.

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